Calhoun taking medical leave

Updated: January 20, 2010, 8:40 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun is taking a leave of absence, effective immediately, due to undisclosed medical issues, the university announced Tuesday afternoon.

"It is my recommendation that Coach Calhoun take a medical leave from his coaching position to address some temporary medical issues, none of which involve any previous medical conditions that he has dealt with," said his physician, Dr. Peter Schulman of the University of Connecticut Health Center.

According to UConn, Calhoun had a regularly scheduled doctor's appointment early Tuesday and was informed during that visit that he should take the leave.

More information from Calhoun could be forthcoming in the coming days. In Calhoun's previous brushes with medical scares -- prostate and skin cancer -- Calhoun has been forthright about his condition. But when Calhoun will make that public is still unknown.

According to UConn spokesperson Kyle Muncy, Calhoun's leave is neither heart- nor cancer-related and he won't need to be hospitalized. Calhoun is a three-time cancer survivor.

Calhoun usually meets with the media the day before the game. He was not available Tuesday -- a day earlier, the school said he had prior commitments and a late practice.

Muncy said it was too soon to establish a timetable on whether Calhoun will return, presumably this season.

"Our primary concern is Coach Calhoun's health and his complete recovery. We will do everything possible to support Coach during this time. Jim and I both know that the men's basketball program is in very capable hands under the leadership of associate head coach George Blaney," UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway said.

UConn (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today) is 11-6 (2-3 Big East) and has lost three straight. The Huskies' next game is Wednesday against St. John's in Hartford and they host No. 1 Texas on Saturday.

Blaney will coach the Huskies on Wednesday and likely will continue until further notice.

Indiana Pacers guard A.J. Price, who starred for UConn last season, found out about Calhoun's leave shortly before Tuesday night's game at Miami.

"Obviously, I'm concerned," he said. "I hope he's OK. I hope it's nothing too serious, that he's able to come back and that he doesn't end his career this way.

"He's so passionate and emotional about the game. When it comes to actual game time, that's when he's at his most intense. It really doesn't matter if we're winning, it's a big game, not a big game, losing, it doesn't matter, that's just when he's his most intense," Price said. "He's such a competitor and with them playing the way they're playing right now, not winning too much, that could also have something to do with it. Knowing what kind of guy he is, how much he wants to win, probably makes things more difficult for him right now."

The Huskies lost 68-63 at Michigan on Sunday.

"There's no sugarcoating it: He doesn't take losing well," Price said. "He's a competitor and likes to win. He really doesn't take losing well when he feels that he has a good team as well. That's where I think he's at right now. He feels like the team probably right now is underachieving a little bit."

Calhoun, 67, has missed all or parts of 21 games during his career due to illness. Last season, he missed a regular-season game against Rutgers and the Huskies' opening-round NCAA tournament win over Tennessee-Chattanooga.

He missed time in January 2008 from what the team called a combination of stress and exhaustion. Calhoun also said then he'd been suffering from a gastric problem, something he's had for years.

Later in 2008, he was treated for a second instance of skin cancer. He had surgery to remove a lump in the upper right side of his neck near the jawline and underwent radiation.

Calhoun also missed five games in 2003, when he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.

Last June, he was hospitalized after breaking several ribs during a charity bike ride.

Former UConn star Donyell Marshall posted on his Twitter account: "Get well Coach Calhoun. taking a medical leave of absence."

Calhoun has led UConn to three Final Fours and national championships in 1999 and 2004, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. He agreed to a five-year contract extension in December that includes the current season, but it is unclear if he ever signed the new deal. His current contract runs out June 30.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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